SBS to extend ITI link for range of ventures

Broadcasting co. enters Central Europe's advertising market

AMSTERDAM — SBS Broadcasting will extend its previously announced partnership with Polish media group ITI to include plans for additional channels and a 50% joint ownership in a wide variety of new-media and Internet-related activities.

The European channel launcher, which now has investments in broadcast channels within 12 Euro territories, on Monday concluded its originally announced deal to take a 33% stake in ITI-owned TVN, Poland’s second-largest commercial web.

SBS is estimated to have paid $160 million for the stake, which gives the group its first entry into Central Europe’s largest TV advertising market.

As part of the deal, it also has an option to increase the stake to 50%.

Neither SBS nor ITI has elaborated on what they say is an expanded strategy, but ITI CEO Jan Wejchert said it will include using TVN to build a “powerful multimedia presence.”

SBS president Martin Lindskog told Daily Variety that existing alliances between SBS and Dutch-based production company Endemol Entertainment; Endemol and ITI; and SBS and United Pan-Europe Communications (UPC), among others, “opened up the possibilities for cooperation among the various parties on a number of different media levels.”